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In February 2003 Kurt Busch tried his hand at a Champ Car at Sebring in this AR1.com file photo. See video below
"Kurt Busch had some concerns and of course, so did we, which led us to the decision to mutually separate and end our driver-race team relationship," Penske Corp. senior vice president Bud Denker said in an email to USA TODAY. "We will begin to evaluate possible candidates for the No. 22 car.” Busch said "there was no single incident that got us to this point" and stressed it was "a mutual separation. That's how I want it to be expressed to everybody. Everybody's going to run with it and write 'out' or 'fired' or whatever it may be. Most importantly, this was a mutual agreement."
The Las Vegas native intimated he had been mulling a departure from the team prior to Homestead. It was a turbulent season for Busch, who revealed a separation from his wife in June and clashed with two reporters in the regular-season finale Sept. 11 at Richmond International Raceway.
"Right now I'm just looking at just putting the fun back into my racing. Maybe that's why I was out running drag racing, or Frank Kimmel's street stock racing. I was looking to find opportunities to put a smile on my face."
The opportunities for Busch to remain in a competitive ride in Sprint Cup might be limited. There is no room at powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports. Roush Fenway Racing isn't interested after firing Busch for a reckless driving citation with two races remaining in 2005 (Busch already had signed with Penske at that point). There are several winning teams that have room to another car, but it would require sponsorship, and teams such as Roush and Richard Childress Racing already have contracted for next year because corporate funding still remains difficult to find in NASCAR.
After qualifying for an NHRA Pro Stock event in March, moving into drag racing also might be a possibility for Busch. When pressed on whether he would stay in NASCAR if only offered a winning-caliber car, Busch said multiple times that he would consider all options.
"This is a fresh start," he said. "I'm evaluating all options. To me, racing has never been about the money. It's always been about winning and having fun. Today's news is a positive step for me. I just want to put the fun back into my racing and hopefully continue to compete for championships. I just want to get back to having fun in the race car."
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